One protracted battle, complete with artillery and air cover, took place over 72 hours in the Punjiwai district, 45 kilometres southwest of Kandahar. The barren, dusty expanse, which is punctuated with irregular patches of green pasture, was the scene of a vicious firefight two weeks ago that killed Afghan police officers.
The second engagement happened Saturday in nearby Helmand province, where a platoon of Canadian soldiers got the jump on what was thought to be a planned Taliban ambush. Two LAVs opened fire on three trucks that had been shadowing them and their logistics convoy, bound for Forward Operating Base Robinson.
As night fell in this latest engagement, Canadian artillery fired illumination rounds to force the Taliban to keep their heads down. As well, an unmanned aerial vehicle patrolled the skies watching for signs of movement.
When the sun came up on Friday, Canadian soldiers swept through the villages followed by Afghan police, who conducted house-to-house searches and urged residents to flee.
A flood of civilians was driven up against the Canadian blocking positions, where women and children were separated from able-bodied men.
As many as 12 suspected Taliban fighters were held in place by the Canadians until the Afghan police could do a more thorough interrogation, said Strickland.
Local authorities reported Sunday that seven insurgents were killed and nine wounded.
It is not clear how many suspected militants died in the separate action involving the logistics convoy in Helmand province.
Strickland said after the LAVs fired on the trucks, which contained about 15 armed men, the Canadian vehicles retreated to a defensive position, but eventually made their way unmolested to the remote coalition outpost, where Pte. Robert Costall was killed in late March.
A patrol sent out early Sunday found only broken glass and tire tracks at the potential ambush site.
``Despite the absence of bodies, I think it's quite safe to assume there are dead (insurgents),'' Strickland said.
Keep up the good work.
Source: Toronto Star